Sporting Lisbon 3-1 Manchester United - Report


By Chris O'Brien / David Hobbs
August 9 2003

Manchester United's superb pre-season winning streak has ended, following a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sporting Lisbon. Fatigue started to show in the United players, with Eric Djemba-Djemba's performance being one of the only shining lights in a dark night for United.

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Sporting Lisbon 3-1 Manchester United - Match Report
Sporting Lisbon Manchester United

3 1

Jose Alvalade Stadium

Att: 55,000

Filipe, Pinto 2

Hugo (o.g)

United's superb pre-season form has ended with a disappointing 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sporting Lisbon in the Red Devils' fifth friendly.

United supporters who criticised the arrangement of this friendly were right to voice concerns, with clear signs of fatigue showing in many United players, following the strenuous US tour.

Sir Alex Ferguson rested several of United's star players for the friendly, but the side was still a strong one with Paul Scholes, Fabien Barthez, Nicky Butt, Mikael Silvestre, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, John O'Shea and Rio Ferdinand amongst the starters.

Debutant Eric Djemba-Djemba also was named in the starting XI, and his performance was one of the only shining lights on what was a frustrating night for the visitors.

The game had a slow start, with neither side having an early onslaught, and the first chance of note came from Sporting, fifteen minutes in, with former Barcelona midfielder Fabio Rochemback putting a free-kick inches over Barthez's crossbar.

Very soon after, the very impressive 18-year-old Christiano Ronaldo fired a well-struck shot at Barthez, which was parried by the Frenchman.

Sporting were having the better of proceedings, with Eric Djemba-Djemba having United's only real chance of the match on the twenty-minute mark. The Cameroon international fired a shot at goal from well outside the penalty area, which went a few inches wide of the post.

Lisbon took a deserved lead mid-way through the first-half. Rio Jorge played an inch-perfect cross to Filipe, who turned and neatly slotted the ball past Barthez.

The 53,000 Lisbon supporters, packed into their brand new stadium, celebrated in delight, and watched their side dominate for the rest of the half.

The home side came close to doubling their lead, with Beto and Filipe both having chances, but the Portuguese outfit went in at the break with only the one goal advantage.

Half Time - Sporting Lisbon 1-0 Manchester United

United fans were left confused after the break, as it would appear a different opposition had arrived! Sporting Lisbon had changed out of their famous green and whit hooped jersey, to show off their new away kit!

Mark Lynch was brought on shortly into the second period, and was undoubtedly closely watched by Sir Alex Ferguson, as he looks to make a claim for a regular place in the first-team squad.

The Portuguese Under-21 international, who is tipped to one-day be as good as the Brazilian striker he shares a name with, latched onto a Pinto pass, but his shot was smothered by Barthez.

With the team tiring, Sir Alex made a triple substitution, with Phil Neville, Darren Fletcher, and Danny Pugh replacing Kieran Richardson, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes,

Lisbon doubled their lead, from a Pinto header. Pinto was left unmarked in the box, and took his header well from a Lisbon free-kick.

Sir Alex played his trump card, bringing on Dutch hit-man Ruud van Nistelrooy, who replaced Quinton Fortune, but it was not enough to save United.

Pinto secured the victory for Lisbon, with a superb shot giving Fabien Barthez no chance. It was little more than Lisbon deserved, and it was hard to see how, before this game, they had lost all four of their pre-season friendlies. It was equally hard to see how United had won all four of theirs!

The Red Devils did get some conciliation, with a Hugo own goal making the scoreline look more respectable for the Premiership Champions. Hugo made contact with a Solskjaer cross, and the ball bobbled over the line, before then bouncing out again. He pleaded with the referee that the ball had not crossed the line, but replays showed that the man in charge was correct with his decision.

United had a short spell of pressure in the dieing moments, with Ruud van Nistelrooy looking lively - but there was no way back for the visitors - who looked very tired following the four US friendly matches. I just hope this does not show on Sunday in the season curtain-raiser against Arsenal in the Community Shield, at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Full Time - Sporting Lisbon 3-1 Manchester United

The Line-Ups

Sporting Lisbon - Ricardo, Garcia (Sergio 87), Beto (Polga 82), Hugo, Rui Jorge (Tello 56); Custodio, Rochemback (Rui Bento 79), Filipe, Pinto (Tonito 86); Silva (Lourenco 75), Ronaldo. 

Manchester United - Barthez, O’Shea (Lynch 53’), Silvestre, Ferdinand; Fortune (van Nistelrooy 78’), Richardson (Pugh 59’), Djemba-Djemba, Bellion; Solskjaer, Scholes (Fletcher 59’)

ManUtdWeb Man of the Match - Eric Djemba-Djemba
Djemba-Djemba was one shining light for United in what was a disappointing night. The Cameroon international played a Keane-like game, with his battling presence in midfield proving popular among the travelling supporters.

His performance will have provided Sir Alex with some thought for his team selection for Sunday's match with Arsenal.

Eric Djemba-Djemba - so good they named him twice!!

Fabien Barthez and Mikael Silvestre, who were both also making their first appearance of the season for United, following their absence from the US tour squad, both also put in decent displays.

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